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Schools would still get their cut under taxing district proposal

Updated: December 21, 2013 8:24PM



VALPARAISO — The Porter County Redevelopment Commission is moving forward with plans for a tax-increment financing district in an area around Porter County Regional Airport.

The district would still send 40 percent of its revenue back to taxing units in the district, including the East Porter School Corporation.

The commission decided on that percentage Thursday, with the consent of officials from the East Porter Schools, including Superintendent Rod Gardin and school board member Bob Martin.

The commission also will offer grants to the school corporation in an effort to make up for additional lost tax revenue from the TIF district.

Under typical tax-increment financing, the level of tax collections within the boundaries of a district are frozen at a given amount; additional tax revenue above that amount is diverted for a specific purpose, such as economic development, instead of going to the usual taxing bodies, such as schools.

The return of collected money for taxing units in a TIF district, to help protect their tax revenue stream, is unusual, Martin said, but non-voting commission member Ralph Ayers said it’s a growing trend.

“I do think what we’re doing here is a model for the future. Those who succeed us will hopefully model what we’ve put in place,” said commission president E. Ric Frataccia, superintendent of the Portage Township schools.

In this case, the percentage split agreed upon is similar to an arrangement East Porter has with the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission for the TIF district around the Porter’s Vale shopping center on the city’s southeast side.

The Porter County commission also will return any unused funds back to the taxing units, said commission member and Porter County Councilman Jim Polarek, R-4th District.

The district could be in place by the spring. It must go before the county’s plan commission, to make sure it jibes with the county’s comprehensive plan.

From there, it goes on to the Board of Commissioners, and back to the redevelopment commission for a public hearing, before final approval by the county commissioners.

The TIF district encompasses almost 6 square miles, mostly in Washington Township. The plan’s budget for improvements is $69.35 million, including $30 million for the airport.



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